By Jessica DeLoach
It seems like technology is always moving forward, creating new experiences and lenses through which people are able to view the world. It is amazing that these beautifully historical buildings seen in Brussels have a surprising amount of technologically advanced features and capabilities.
We began our day with a visit to the International Press Center, or IPC, where we were introduced to two very kind and knowledgeable gentlemen, Claude Cuvelier, from the IPC, and Walter Vanderstukken, from Videohouse, television facilities that are a part of the euro media group. The IPC building has a rich history; it was built in the 1920s as an all inclusive group of houses, or large apartments, for the Brussels bourgeoisie, complete with theater, dancing hall, restaurants and pool.
During WWII, the building was commandeered by the Germans and the residents were evicted and forced to leave. After the war, the building was “tainted” and was eventually purchased back by Belgium for one cent. The building now serves as a center for journalists, public relations professionals, public affairs and world leaders to come and make international decisions regarding the EU and have the news updated from studios within the building. Due to the historic nature of the building, the current business residents are limited with what they could change. They were not allowed to alter the rooms to be international news casting studios so they improvised.
Walter showed the cohort what they had done to create studio walls and backdrops for the journalists to access, and it was quite amazing what they were able to do. With false walls which held curtains and back drops, as well as high tech cameras, permanent lighting and a neutral set for the international audiences, the studio produces results which are reminiscent of professional news studios in the states.
One of the larger meeting rooms that can be booked by the EU leaders, the Polak room, had more high tech conferencing and recording capabilities than any room I had ever seen. With a twelve panel screen behind the leaders or panelists speaking, each meeting may be seen by all 150 people attending, no matter how far from the front you sit. The individual seats have microphones in the armrest for attendees to ask questions audibly as well as hubs to hook up to translators that are in the room and record multiple versions of the meeting at a time. In the back of the room were camera stations that ensured that multiple cameras could be plugged in to power and if a journalistic camera person had multiple cameras, they would be synced with time to help with editing. Even down to the automatically adjustable height feature on the podium, the IPC is well equipped to serve international journalism professionals across many languages.
To continue without journey of grand buildings with a great amount of technological advances, the Parliamentarium, which hosts a museum tour of the history of the EU, was more advanced than any museum I had ever visited. Each visitor to the museum was given a lanyard that held an encased iPhone and a headset. These iPhones could be tapped on the wall by an exhibit and would immediately begin playing a recording or video or show additional facts or quotes associated with an exhibit. With the use of a variety of pictures and wall mounted acrylic displays that were backlit with varying colors of LED lighting, the displays came to life as I approached. In one room, which was popular with the children tourists, a visitor could roam around a large floor map of Europe and hear the history of each nation as it related to the formation of the EU. Each of these headsets were programmed in a multitude of languages, catering to the many native cultures and extreme variety of languages across Europe.
The entire day was very informative and creatively so. The great amount of technologically advanced historical buildings across the city does not cease to amaze me. Between the IPC and the Parlamentarium, our cohort was exposed to many exciting things today, putting our knowledge from last semester’s communication and technology course into full effect.